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K a n g r a M i n i a t u r e P a i n t i n g s

Ankita Laraee
Anushree Palkhiwala
Nivedita Parihar Nikita Mishra
Tushar Rajan Sharma

Fashion Communication [2013-17]

National Institute of Fashion Technology
The Myths of the Flatland

This chronicle book describes the evergreen,

aesthetically alluring, magnificent Kangra
miniature paintings. These paintings evolved from
the land of uneven horizon of hills, mountains and
dense valleys. It embraces with itself the delineated
mythical stories of lord Krishna and the traditional
natural technique of intricacy. The title of the book
Myths of the flat land is been used as witticism
as the denotation of the word myth is a traditional
story which concerns the early history of people
and typical involvement of supernatural beings or
events just as the miniature paintings involves stories
and being of lord Krishna. And the flat land
because this genre of painting does not follow the art
of perspective and is foreground oriented, yet these
paintings do not fail to baffle and inspire be it the art
fanatics or the common layman. Embrace yourself
and enter the flat intricate world of paintings and
change your perspective.


We would like to express special gratitude towards our college, NIFT

Gandhinagar for giving us an opportunity of a life time. Mr. Ravi
Joshi, for motivating us and making the craft cluster intervention
pragmatically possible. Renowned Mr. B.N.Gosawmi, for giving us
his time,expertise and insightful guidance. Mrs Ritu, (Curator of
Dharmshala Museum) without whom we possibly would have failed
to start the intervention and meet the saviours of the extinct Kangra
miniature paintings. Mrs Smiti Chada, (active member of KAPS,
Kangra Arts Promotional Society) to give us the privilege to get in
touch with the few artists and master artists of this beautiful art
and also giving us an opportunity, to help KAPS with promotional
materials for the art. We would like to be thankful to all the master
artisans and artisans for their cooperation and precious time. Also the
local people of Kangra who did not fail to baffle us with their warmth
and love. We would also like to thank Mr.Lokesh Ghai, for guiding us
before and after the craft cluster intervention and lastly, Mrs. Rashida
Tayabjee for helping us in making our experience physically present in
a document.

Chapter I
The call of the hills

Chapter II
An epoch of miniature paintings

Chapter III
The intricacy of making

Chapter IV
Rendezvous with the genius old hands

Chapter V
An archival excursion

Chapter VI
Kangra Art Promotion Society

B.N. Goswamy



Copyright Ankita Laree, Anushree Palkhiwala,

Tushar Rajan Sharma, Nivedita Parihar, Nikita Mishra
2015 All rights reserved.
Chapter 1

The Call of the Hills

painting, a painted picture, colours on a paper. Colours that
transform a blank space into a piece of art. That can add value
to any non existent element. A painting, expression of an artist
which is admired by those who can see. With their eyes and further.
A painting, which tells a story. Famous or Infamous. Happy or Sad.
Simple or Intense.

There was a strong reason for us to be attracted to this art so much.

The legends of Pahari Paintings were faintly remembered by
the NCERT books they taught us in the Schools. The process, the
technique, the style, the characters, the stories, the colours- everything
had a purpose. Our curiosity for this art magnetised us towards the
hills. And on 1st June 2015 we found ourselves breathing the natural
breeze of Himachal Pradesh. A state known for its natural beauty and
scenic serenity welcomed us with open hands.

We met the near extinction artists who perform the art of Pahari
Paintings in Kangra Style. We did not want to do all the things at once.
So, we thought of going into the depth of one style only and learn all
about that style from the artisans. As we kept on digging more and
more inside this Art, more and more questions were born. Well, we
did not return unsatisfied, as all the questions were answered in a very
wholesome way by all we encountered during this exploration.

This is an art which is slowly loosing its charm. The problems that
these artisans and the art are facing needs genuine help. So that, this
art and be preserved for the centuries to come. Our major concern
while working on this intervention project was to save the spirit of the
art. After all, an art is not an art without soul.

The Myths of the Flatland


The Myths of the Flatland

he Kangra Valley, a piece of the main markets. We could trees depicted in the paintings, the
of heaven for human see the glorious Himalayan Peaks hills, the streams and birds and
access, glorifies the from the windows of our rooms rocks. All this was very exciting to
Himachal Pradesh state of India. we were staying. And from the experience.
In the lap of the great Himalayas, other balcony we could see the In Dharamshala, as planned,
Kangra Valley is a visual treat whole Mcleodganj suburbs and we visited the Kangra Museum.
for the visitors and well as the Dharamshala. Being on such an It is a home to Chitera School.
inhabitants. Its inevitable beauty altitude, we could clearly admire A school born under Kangra
served as ink for many writers, as the beauty of Himachal from Arts Promotion Society, teaches
colour for many artists, and has every direction we looked into. interested ones to learn Kangra
inspired great work. We trekked for an hour to reach Miniature Painting. Many of
Dharamkot. It is a paradise for artists practice the paintings there.
Our journey started from nature lovers. Also it has extra We stayed with the artists for a day
Gandhinagar, where we study. ordinary cafes and joints that and tried to learn as much as we
We took a trip via New Delhi and serve mouth watering delicacies. could from the very basics. From
Chandigarh. Chandigarh being a The patch connecting these two how they source the material to
home to one of the Major Pahari places is heavenly. You would how they sell the paintings, we
Paintings Collection served us want to get lost in the area and tried to extract all. The view from
with basic knowledge about this would wish to never go back from the Museum is something that
Art. Then the Road Trip from there. The dense greenery and requires a mention. From the
Chandigarh till Kangra was beautiful roads. Miraculously windows of the Chitera School
a long but exciting trip. The shaped rocks covered with ferns, Artist Room we could see the grey
scenic beauty of the route kept long thick trees, the chirping of and white mighty clouds kissing
our eyes out of the car windows. the birds, and everything that the snowy peaks of the Great
Due to traffic we reached our was there was so perfect, as if Himalayas. Enveloping the peaks
Hotel late in the evening. Due some designer has deliberately like a crazy lover safeguarding his
to some confusion, the Hotel placed those things in that way. love. Working in that environment
we booked turned out to be in It was no less than a fairytale is not working but enjoying.
Mcleodganj. But as soon as we land. We were telling each other
entered Mcleodganj, we thanked that Peter Jackson could have We also made a visit to the Kangra
our fate for that confusion. A shot Hobbit here. Stunned by Fort. The Sansar Chand Museum
beautiful place full of creative this divine beauty we remained was small, but an interesting visit.
Street Stores, Magnificent Cafes, numb to listen to the faint voice Maharaja Sansar Chand who
Crowded lanes, was a hub for of water falling on the bare promoted the art of Miniature
foreign and Indian tourists. rocks as we reached near a small Paintings when he was in power
town, where we could only find served as a saviour for this art. His
Being a crowded place it was Hippies enjoying their lives to the museum shows the kind of life the
difficult to travel in a vehicle. fullest. As we had already seen Kings used to be amused about at
So, the most convenient way some Miniature Paintings in the that time.
was to travel on foot. And that Museums we visited before, we
is the best way one gets to know found out places which reminded We visited the Army Cantonment
about a place better. We stayed us of the backgrounds of many Area where we found interesting
at a Hotel on Bhakshunath paintings. variations or should I call them
Road. The road is named after contemporarised form of Kangra
Bhakshunath Temple which is a No wonder, the artists were so Miniature on huge size Canvases.
great tourist attraction because inspired by the grandeur of that They were never done on such
of the Bhakshunath Waterfall. region. As we travelled more and big Canvas ever before. That was
We were a little at a distant from more everyday, we found more really something fascinating to
the tourist crowd and the hustle and more inspirations. Like the encounter.

Chapter II

An Epoch of
Miniature Paintings
T he art of Pahari miniature and a little later Kangra in 1806.

The Myths of the Flatland

Paintings developed during Sansar Chand was thus left with no
the 17th century and flourished option but to approach Ranjit Singh
down to the 19th century. This for assistance. After expelling the
art found patronage under the Gurkhas, the Sikhs assumed direct
Rajput princedoms of the punjab control over the hill states by 1822.
and Garhwal hills (now Himachal The Mughal hold over the Kangra
Pradesh). The main centres of fortress persisted till the death of
Pahari paintings were Basohli, the last kilahdadr Saif Ali Khan in
Jammu, Guler, Kangra, Mandi, 1781. In 1786, the fort came under
and Kullu. the control of Raja Sansar Chand
Scholarly research says that this
style of miniature painting is a At this point Mughal Miniature
hybrid, a distinctive composite of Painters were evidently not invited
the elements from the Gujarati to the hills to share their skills or
manuscripts, Mughal style and the impart their technical knowledge
Rajasthani school of the early 17th to the local artists (the Tarkhan
century. or the Tarkhan Chiteras). The
Tarkhan who worked in the Pahari
ateliers belonged traditionally to the
carpenter class. The young children
of the Tarkhan family were always
How did the art of painting eager to become a Chitera and serve
reach the punjab hills? at the court atelier. They learnt the
art from their father who imparted
It all started with several rajput lessons , made corrections and
families coming from Rajasthan and kept a stern demanding eye on the
central India to settle down in the work of the pupil. Alongside the
remote northern region. Compared training, they were also familiarised
to the courts of Rajasthan, the area with the ancient hindu myths,
remained relatively untouched by and fables. Collection of already
the strong Mughal power. In 1618, existing drawings in the family
Jahangir tried to establish control were copied at times, with changes
over the Himalayan foothills by being introduced perceptively in the
subjugating the ruler of Kangra compositions as well as in the colour
successfully. And later in 1656, scheme. When a Chitera (painter)
Prithipat Shah of Garhwal finally accepted a commission under a
submitted to the Mughals. new patron or if he moved from his
Besides paying the levy, he sent his family centre, he had to update or
son to serve at the court. modify his expression.

The mid 18th century led to political

changes in the region which followed
a development in Pahari paintings.
By 1798, Maharaja Ranjit Singh
Ancient Map of Kangra Valley (1792-1839) consolidated Sikh
power and expanded his territory,
making lahore his capital. The
Gurkhas invaded Garhwal in 1803

The creed of Vaishnavism inspired How does one identify a
The Myths of the Flatland

the Sanskrit and Hindi poets of the

twelfth to the sixteenth century and scene of these paintings?
utilmately it was their poetry which
inspired the artists of the hills. Except for the language, the
paintings are easy to decipher.
The earliest miniatures go back These flamboyant paintings are
to the eleventh century, and are identifiable because of the bold
to be found in books written on distinctive figures, sharp profiles,
palm leaves, the paintings either large eyes, heroic chests for men and
integrated into the text scripted on gestures that come from a poetry.
loose leaves, or made on the inside Painters freely render the dresses,
of the wooden covers that held the furnishings and architectural
book together. details; while the nature is depicted
in an imaginary way.
The tales of Krishna as recorded
in the book of Bhagavata was At these Rajput courts - in Rajasthan
interpreted variously at different and Pahari region, the atmosphere
courts of Pahari painting. The was such that were no workshops
Bhagavata Purana series, datable of a kind where no stern ustads sat
to the first half of the sixteenth presiding over all that happening,
century is known for its remarkable work was done within families of
quality; the verve, the spirit, the painters, in family workshops. Here
devotion, the emotional feeling, the too, there were seniors and juniors,
glow of the painters belief that what authority and obedience, but the
they were visualising is the only way relationship was that of members of
things must have happened in the a family. Painting was a hereditary
past. Each leaf celebrates the life of profession here.
Krishna with accompanied original
text of Purana on its verso. Painters grow up with the view of
time. His dramatic reflection of
Among the later poetic narratives time lies in his continuous pictorial
based on the Radha Krishna rendering, he presents the same
theme, one can turn to a leaf from frame, the same set of figures more
a celebrated eighteenth century than once, establishing a sequence.
- Jaydevas Gita Govinda, where In cases, where the narration is long,
his poetic text is famous for the the painter renders similar identical
celebration of the love of Radha scenes with small variations, like
Krishna and the theme of Baramasa, the change of objects around or
poems about the twelve months of showing day and night, showing
the year. Indian love poetry also that much time has passed by.
takes us back to the 1st century B.C
when heroes (nayakas) and heroins
(nayikas) were represented on the
basis of Sanskrit prototypes.

The month of Jyestha (Summer) - Kangra [Baramasa- Twelve Months]

The month of Phalguna (Spring)- Kangra [Baramasa- Twelve Months] The month of Chaitra (Spring)- Kangra [Baramasa- Twelve Months]

Sensitive, reticent and The works of the Pahari masters Maharaja Sansar Chand was the
tender, it perfectly reflects provide inscriptions on the paintings greatest patron of painting in the
the self control and sweet which mention the artist, patron, Punjab hills. Patronage slackened
serenity of Indian life, and
the definitely theocratic and the date and place of execution. in Guler when the state was under
aristocratic organisation of Also, the records registered with control by Raja Sansar Chand of
indian society. It lands itself information about the families of Kangra. He invited the painters of
to the utterance of serene
passion and expression of Pahari painters maintained at places Pandit Seus family by extending
unmixed emotions! of pilgrimage, such as Haridwar, generous patronage to them.
Co omaraswamy
Kurukshetra, and Pehowa, provide Painters took up employment in the
with valuable biographic details to royal court, where they were paid
reconstruct the genealogies of some in different ways. By granting of
painter families. a small piece of land for building
This in particular highlights the their homestead, in the situation
movement of artists from one state where the painter was not only
to the other and pinpoints the role offered employment and attached
of the artist families in the evolution
to the court, but his successor
of the Pahari style. also stayed ins service, as heredity
artists running a family workshop.
From records kept in the registers of By salary, By being given rations
priests at pilgrimage centres, with in kind, in the nature of a daily
nearly everyone continuing to paint, allowance where painters lived in
there is an example of the history their own homes, and were time to
of the family of Pandit Seu. Pandit present at the court, when required.
Seu (c. 1680-1740) about whom
very little is known, was the head
of a painter family based in Guler.
Supposedly, he travelled from the
hills to some flourishing centre of
Mughal painting in the plains, in
all likelihood Delhi or Lahore, and
received instruction in the Mughal
manner of painting. His expression
was much influenced by the
archaistic phase of Basohli painting.
Among his two sons, Manaku
(1700-60), the elder one appears
to have been trained in his fathers
earlier style, while Nainsukh (1700-
78) the younger one, assimilated
the stylistic modifications inclined
towards Mughal naturalism. Patrons
continued to patronise the family
and the tree kept being watered.
Manakus two sons Fattu and
Khushala, were painters as were
all four of Nainsukhs sons - Kama,
Gaudhu, Nikka, and Ranjha.

The Myths of the Flatland

Chapter III

The Intricacy of Making

Fineness of feeling is all.

( B.N. Goswami-
T his magnificent nature driven
art starts with just few red and
saffron fine strokes on the naturally
The natural pigments that are used
in the paintings are procured from
varied naturally available objects.
The Spirit of Indian Painting )
obtained, handmade paper which They are now obtained from
is made from creating structural Jaipur. These color/ pigments
skeleton of the painting, which is procurement objects are either
locally known as Sialkoti which stones or plants/ vegetation of a
is named after a place in Punjab certain type. The shades of the
Sialkot, where this handmade colors obtained from the natural
paper was manufactured, it is materials appear as pure as the
gummed together to attain its air we breathe in between and
required thickness that then leads to around the Himalayas. Earlier the
the very colorful intricate art. These colors were made differently; pure
artists used a takti, wooden slate to water was taken to boil at high
practice. These detailed paintings temperature. In the boiling hot
have always been foreground water, the powder obtained from
oriented. All the principle figures the natural materials was mixed
or the main subjects of the painting gradually by continuous stirring to
are placed more or less in the prevent it from solidifying. After the
foreground of the composition gradual rising of temperature at
except in some. There is always regular intervals the color was ready.
equal division of the space with the In the olden times the preparation
horizon often in a curve line. The of the colors was a secret and stayed
coating of a white pigment filling within the families. Starting from
the void spaces of the paper, which thinner and the lighter pigment
is also known as Kadhiya Mud that these pigments are now formed just The use of seashells as a color increases the importance of this
is inclusive of Zinc oxide, they work by suffice addition of water and container depicts the serenity and beautiful painting inspired from its
as the base and also for protection gum, which is commonly known importance of nature in this style yet so breath taking surroundings.
(Contains: 80% -Zinc and 20%- as Babul Gum to the natural of painting. The generic use of
Khadiya) is formed by grinding and object and by fine mixing. After the the seashells as containers is that While coming towards the end of the
adding talcum powder, which is one mixing the artist passes it through a it maintains the shade and luster painting and beginning of detailing,
of the new ways to attain the white (screen) cloth to remove and sieve of the color as it is for a long the final step, first being Khulai,
pigment color. The main purpose/ the impurities from the pigments. duration. Most artists prefer to literally opening up.Every outline
objective of this coat is to to save the The gum improvises the brilliance work from top downwards on a turns crisp, every detail comes to
handmade paper from the termites of the pigment (natural color) and page. The pigments are applied in life. The application of gold and
and other insects (as it works as enhances its hold on the paper. stages, layer after layer and after silver, requires great patience and

The Myths of the Flatland

poison) due to its anti bacterial The finest paint brushes that are each coat is applied the painting is skills, clearly been known and
properties, and also for the lustrous used were - are made curvaceous placed down on a flat surface and mastered since the very early times.
long lasting visual appearance of from the front for a better flow of burnished with the help of agate The artist rubs the agate stone
the painting. After the application the line, it is commonly made from stone. The colored lines used in again at the back of the handmade
of the white pigment the paper is animal tail hair, mostly squirrels the water bodies in the paintings in paper for flattening it before the
garnished by rubbing an agate tail. Earlier each hair was interested order to depict the mood of Lord finishing. The color applied on the
stone, commonly known as Akik one at a time, gently tapped through Krishna, if his mood is clam the border of the painting depends on
stone for attainment of a smooth the thin, hollow tube of a birds fine lines painted are straight and the Kalaam Style) of the Pahari
surface to carry forward the painting feather which led to its coming out static and if aggressive there are painting. The painting slowly starts
conveniently because of its high on top. It was utilized due to their swirls painted in it. There is use of coming into existence and it seems
polishing and smooth surface. Then superior ability to absorb and hold real gold and silver to depict the like it is unfolding its mystery and
again darker fine lines are used to water. This art demands fine and subject of emphasis and also to its hidden meaning, like that of the
build the foundation to begin with flexible lines, as this is one of many give additional aesthetic value. The mysterious mountains.
the coloring. reasons of its exclusivity. utilization of real gold and silver

1 2

of the
1 Making of the powder -
grinded stones/plants
Painting 3 4
2 Adding drops of water
to the powder

3 Preparation of Khadiya -
anti bacterial base coat

4 Applying Khadiya to
The Myths of the Flatland

Sialkoti - handmade paper

Applying second coat of
Khadiya to Sialkoti 5

The 3
of the
2 Painting
1 Marble slabs used
to grind colours from

2 Brushes of different
sixes, majorly made
from squirrel hair

3 Shells preserving and

maintaing the hue of

4 Agate stone for

garnishing Sialkoti - The
handmade paper
of the
1 The 4
of the Artist
1 Starting with red and
saffron fine strokes.

2 Final strokes with

darker pigment (notice
the use of left index
finger to wipe off the
extra pigment)

2 3 The final outline.

4 The artist begins
filling colour in the

5 Later fills colour in the


6 The intricate detailing

is done after filling
the foreground and


The Myths of the Flatland

of the
1 The main subject of the
painting (Radha Krishna),
filled with colour and
silver/gold ornaments

2 garnished with agate

2 Towards the end,

borders are delineated
clearly, framing the

3 Lastly, the artist

embosses their

signature in the end to
leave a mark signifying
their identity.

Chapter IV

Rendezvous with the

Genius Old Hands
The Entrance of the Mr. Kamal Jeet wotking
Chitera Scho ol of Arts
O ur journey continued to
the Dharamshala Museum
which was one of the only centres
first glance; he was engrossed
making the last detailing of
intricate miniature painting. It was
painter. He became a professional
artist working for Chitera School.
However he maintained his side
students who join in every year to
learn the art. Also teaches tourists
and other visitors the art for a
on one of his miniatures.

known for Pahari miniature time to engage in a conversation profession of writing and also month as vocational training. He
paintings.The school teaching this with the artist. He was a local he worked as a freelancer. We was a family man, with a wife and
art is Chitera School of Arts, from Dharamshala. He always continued our conversation with a 2 year old daughter who lived in
Kangra, Himachal Pradesh. This had great interest in art since him and got further insights into his Dharamshala. He then gave us a
school was associated with KAPS he was a kid and he kept it as a life as a Kangra miniature painter. list of exhibitions he had visited
(Kangra Arts Promotion Society). hobby till his class 10. He always We learnt various facts that being to present himself and his work as
This school occupied its space at use to paint walls of different outsiders we would have never a Kangra miniature painter. He
the Dharmashala Museum. local houses at Dharmshala. Then thought about. It was shocking to went to 2015- Shimla Exhibition,
When we entered the huge four later, he started making his hobby know that such intricate art was 2013- Jaipur Art festival, 2013-
stonewalls of knowledge, we were his career of interest. However he not being recognised by the people Jammu art workshop, 2012-
baffled but the scenic location of also had great interests in writing there as well as outside Kangra. Kolkata Durga Puja (ulta tanga),
the museum. The space Chitera and continues to write in his free Hence the paintings were not 2009- Chandigarh (kala gram),
School occupied wasnt really a time. Kamal Jeet joint Chitera enough to sustain the family. This Delhi- Himachal Exhibition,
huge space. It was just one room School of Arts in 2007 under the forced him to do other outside Chandigarh Kurkshetra, 2012-
with 5 working desks for the artists Guru- Shishya Parampara under work to sustain livelihood like Chamba Mueseum workshop,
of the school who taught the Shri Dhani Ram Jee the master of working as a freelance writer and Bhasha Sanskriti Bhivag. Being
students as well as made paintings all the artists for a year, at Kangra free lance painter. In order to earn a Kangra miniature painter for
on orders to keep the art strong Pancheswari Temple. After taking a good livelihood out of this art 7 years now we asked him what
and existing. These paintings training from Shree Dhani Ram he is required to finish 4 paintings were his observations, and there
made by the artists of the museum Jee, he took one year training under in one month, which would make were pretty interesting things
were then sold via the museum Master artist Mukesh Dimag at him 6000/- via the museum. he pointed out like; Visitors of
and KAPS to the buyers. Chamunda Mandir in Kangra. Apart from that he also works as the museum are drawn to the
Our very first encounter was with Its been 7 years since 2008 for a teacher at the Chitera School paintings mostly when they see us
the artist Mr. Kamal Jeet. At our Kamal Jeet to be paintings as a of arts, teaching the new batch of working live, thats the only time

Kangra miniature painting artists themselves, this made the process all over the country. The Himachal

The Myths of the Flatland

are very few, the princely state of even longer because preparing the State government should start more
Kangra should help to keep this colours and the paper itself took art schools teaching the subject of
art alive and the temples should around a months time. They had Kangra miniature paintings, so as to
employ more and more kangra to start from scratch; nothing was guide and teach the prospective art
painters. The locals of kangra ready made available to them. But students well. There should be no
itself arent aware of the art of now the artists have everything discrimination made on the basis of
Kangra miniature paintings; they ready made and readily available arts especially between modern art
need to be made aware about its to them, they dont have to waste and these regional arts like Kangra
existence and importance. Schools a lot of time in the preparation of miniature paintings.Just like modern
and colleges should incorporate the raw materials. The artists back art even Kangra miniature paintings
the subject of Kangra Miniature then worked under the king, hence should get equal attention and
paintings as a part of their syllabus, they were under immense pressure encouragement to move forward
to help spread awareness amongst to give their 100% and obtain and expand. Finally we concluded
the youth of today. Many people outstanding results. The reason our conversation with this highly
arent aware about this but the art behind the beauty and intricacy talented artist by asking him one last
of kangra miniature paintings was of the paintings were painted question about his future prospects
drowning and only the remaining then. Now the artists are not under to which he replied that his love for
few 8-10 artists have kept it alive, any higher authorities pressure to art is unending and has decided
otherwise it was almost at the verge produce their best work, neither to dedicate his life to working as a
of extinction.. Our questions are they inspired enough to work to Kangra miniature painter, whatever
kept on getting more and more their full potential, hence the lack to changes may come.
interesting, we asked him next that inspiration and dedication towards
did the paintings they made today the paintings leads to inferior The next artist we spoke too was Mr
were similar to the historic Kangra quality degrading the quality of Rajeev Kumar, he was sitting two
Miniatures.With a smile on his face, this art. Their work in comparison tables from Kamal Jeet working on
he said As an artist and being to the original paintings of the past four similar paintings simultaneously.
One of Mr. Kalam they are curious to know the process completely honest about it I would made by the master artists have It was really surprising to see how
Jeets painting from the
and what it is really about, but then say no. But there are reasons to that a 60% match rate, its not 100% one man with two hands could work
Baramasa Series. as well. The colours in the historic however we try our best to get the on 4 intricate miniature paintings at
sometimes we get to see genuine art
lovers, people with the knowledge paintings still have their natural closest we possibly can. Also there the same time.We sat down in front
related to this field, they take serious shine also the work was extremely was hardly any mention of the of him amazed at his skill as he
interests in knowing more about this fine and intricate. Today even names of the artists / painters who put away his paintings to talk to us.
art, and also contribute by buying though the artists try their best to made the paintings in the 17th- He too was a childhood artist who
the paintings. There are various match up to the level of the master 19th century Kangra, there is no loved painting and then left school
instances of outsiders who have only artists of the past centuries, they recognition given to them in the to pursue his career as a commercial
come across modern art and not believe that they can never match books of history. When we asked artist. In 2007 he joint the Chitera
something this intricate and detailed up to the legendary master artists him how we could help them, he School of Art under KAPS at the
like the Kangra Miniature paintings. of the past. Before the artists would just said that he has a few appeals Dharamshala museum; he proudly
This always leaves them perplexed take 4-6 months to complete one and he wants to get their voices claimed how there were 150 entries
and shocked simultaneously as the painting. Hence they would put in a heard, there are messages that need for admission at the Chitera School
whole process and beauty of this art lot of time and effort into one piece to be conveyed like the government of arts, out of which only 15 were
is something they have never seen of art they were working on but today should support/promote these chosen after an entrance test of
before. He further added These these artists dont have the time to artists, send them for workshops all their skills, and he was one of them.
are the instances we feel proud and dedicate to one painting,they have over the country to make people He then took training under Master
truly rewarded for our work, when to complete at least 4 paintings in a aware that Kangra paintings Artist Dhani Ram Jee for the time
people recognise us and our work. month so that they can earn enough exist. The government should also span of 1 year under the Guru
When we further inquired about livelihood to sustain their lives.Since take steps to involve the Kangra Shishya Paramapara. After which
the current situation of the Kangra historic times the raw materials miniature paintings in all the he took training under Mukesh
Miniature paintings,he said that were prepared by the painters different exhibitions that take place Diman Jee another Master Artist

Mr. Rajeev Kumar Deepak Bhandari
working on paintings for who would sit at the Chamunda issue that this art faces today is that towards it, the painters will then get (10am to 5pm). He is able to finish showing us the technique
the Kangra Society. of making a miniature
mandir in Kangra. However the no one understands how important better earnings and hence a better around 5-6 paintings every month,
learning hasnt stopped he says, this art is, how delicate, intricate livelihood out of it says Rajeev. however the number depends on
he keeps going back to his teachers and detailed it is, hence they feel While we were interviewing these the detailing of the painting. He
to learn further and expand his that 3000/- which is not even half master artists there was the 3rd artist also works on contemporary and
knowledge. Apart from working as the actual worth of the painting is present in the room Mr. Deepak customised pieces on the demand of
a painter under KAPS, also teaches too much. He explained though Bhandari who was busy showing the customers. Then back at home
the new students who join the he is one of the few remaining the rest of the group members a he works as a freelance painter and
Chitera School of Arts. So his job Kangra miniature painters, he still live demo of the process of making. works with acrylic on canvas. Apart
at the Dharamshala museum under has a family to run and looking at Which has been elaborately from freelancing he also attends
KAPS is full time apart from which the current state of the paintings if mentioned in the chapter of The various workshops for additional Money doesnt
he freelances sometimes when the he doesnt get enough income out intricacy of making. We were income. He has a lot of expectations matter, name does.
opportunity is worth it. He is able to of the efforts he is putting in he will eagerly waiting for him to finish from the promotional material
Deepak Bhandari
work on 3-4 paintings maximum in leave it and look for an alternative so that we could speak to him and published by KAPS, which is hardly
one month out of which he makes job to sustain livelihood, which is know his thoughts as an artist of a brochure. Also he expects that soon
6000/- per month. Talking about the truth with most of the artists, this art, so we finally did. Just like enough government will recognise
family, he is married with no kids, they are at the verge of leaving it if all the other master artists we spoke their efforts and help them with aid,
stays with wife in Kangra 25 kms the situation continues to degrade. too Deepak Bhandari had the not only monetary but by opening
away from his work place. His wife Just like Kamal Jeet even he had similar story. He joined the Chitera up more schools in Himachal itself
is a Kangra miniature painter too, a few appeals to make like the School of Arts, and took one year which will teach and promote these
who was a part of his batch at the government needs to realise that of training under master artisan paintings and by also commercially
Chitera School of Arts.However their support towards this art is Dhani Ram jee.Later he went on start selling these paintings in
she doesnt work under KAPS, but extremely important, KAPS who to 6 years of training under master larger markets. Advertisements on
freelances from home.Apart from is working towards the promotion artist Mukesh Diman jee, after the local television channels also
which she does stitching works to and welfare of this art, has revived which he took his final one year will be a great help and boost in
The Myths of the Flatland

earn extra income to run the house. this art however they wont be able of training from Vijay Sharmaji the awareness of this craft. Finally
When asked to share his thoughts to last for long if the government another very renowned master he just said these words that really
about the present situation of doesnt intervene in it.Once there artist of this art. Now he works as a inspired us, Money doesnt matter,
Kangra Miniature paintings, this is awareness about this art amongst full time Kangra miniature painter name does.
is what he had to say The biggest the people, they will show interests at the Dharamshala museum

Another painting from the
Baramasa Series done
One of Mr. Rajeev
by Mr. Rajeev Kumar.
Kumars painting from the
Baramasa Series.

Mr. Rajeev Kumars
painting from the
Baramasa Series.

Another painting from the Baramasa
Series done by a KAPS artist- Mr.
Pawan Deep Bansal

That was the end of the first day paintings.He then gained all his

The Myths of the Flatland

of our encounter with the genius knowledge from his father who had
old hands. Next morning we a lot of interest towards it. Apart
headed towards Chamunda Devi from his father he also received
Mandir in Kangra to meet the training from Shri Chandu Lal
master artist of all these artists Raina during the period of 1988-
Mr. Dhani Ram. We were really 1992. After finishing training Mr.
looking forward to this meeting Dhani Ram was free for two years
because we were curious to see the working in other odd jobs, after
man who has trained the future of which he shifted to Delhi to work
Kangra Miniature paintings. When for 3 months until which the Deputy
we entered the temple we were Commissioner of Himachal Pradesh
told that Mr. Dhani Ram sat in his Ms. Manisha Suther contacted him
cabin inside the temple. We were so as to bring him back to the state
welcomed warmly as we entered his and then appointed him as an artist
small humble cabin, which was also at the Kangra temple. This is where
his workspace. As we went in we Dhani Ram Jee met Mukesh Diman
saw that he was already working on jee, yet another master artist of this
a painting which was lying with his art, as they were allotted cabins at
tools on the desk, we looked around the temple. In 2002 the government
scanning the working environment launched the Handicrafts and
of this artist then we notice that he handloom department in the state,
was also working on an oil painting through which they sent 15 students
of the temple on a canvas.Later to Dhani Raam jee for training.
we began our conversation.He Later in 2007 KAPS was formed,
had a soft corner towards art since who started the Chitera School of
childhood, however did not know Arts, where Dhani Ram jee was Chamunda Devi Mandir
anything about Kangra miniature appointed as the teacher.

He continued teaching at the its extremely difficult to reach out small works of the
Chitera School and produced to the people, yes the internet is a temples like repainting
various defined Kangra miniature great help however due to lack of the walls that are
paintings, however he stopped in knowledge he is unable to utilise losing colour which
2012.He does not have links with this source efficiently. Also Internet is disrespectful to an
KAPS anymore, however all the is an expensive platform; his income artist of that skill level.
paintings that are produced under isnt enough to afford promotions We concluded that
KAPS by their painters are sent through the Internet. Dhani ram Dhani Ram jee needs
to Dhani Ram jee every month jee has similar expectations from the help in promoting
for inspection of the quality. He government regarding aid, which himself as an artist, he
approves the paintings and then is including the subject of Kangra wants to be recognised
they go for sales. Presently his miniature paintings in school and his work to be
main source of income is Kangra syllabus, reviving the old times presented in front of
miniature paintings,as a freelancer. works, encouraging more and more the world through a
He has been working in this field artists to take up learning this art viable platform.
for the past 15 years and hence has by opening up many centres. Its
managed to make contacts in the important that the people realise the
commercial sector like Reliance and value of these paintings, they need
the Harmony trust (Ambanis) give to see the hard work and skill that
him frequent orders. Its all about goes behind each painting and only
your contacts says Dhani Ram then will they agree to pay 5000/-
jee, in todays world its extremely or more for these paintings until
hard to operate and survive if then there will be no progress says
you dont have strong contacts. Dhani Ram Jee. However at the end
As a freelancer he earns much of the discussion he did mention his
One of the paintings that Mr. Dhani Ram was working on. more in comparison to working problems the major ones being that
under the temple since most of working under the temple does give
the earning goes off to the temple them a fixed salary for their work,
funds. The major issues faced by however thats extremely minimal
him today is looking for customers, and they are asked to do other
Chamunda Devi Mandir

After our talk with Dhani Ram jee painting in 1973, working with the
we had an interview planned with same old techniques, taking 10-15
Anil Raina. Lets introduce you days per painting. He gets paid
to Mr. Anil Raina, one of the last around Rs 5000 or Rs 8000 per
descendants of the great historic painting. Thus, he faces the major
Miniature painter Nainsukh. He is issues in terms of marketing. Regular
a painter himself and also works income is really less and museum
as a curator at the Dharamshala salary is too less. The Zurich
museum. When young he had museum made a documentary,
migrated to Guler and hence which was based on their family. Not
started practising Guler school only that the very privileged writer
of paintings. He used to do both Mr.BN Goswami has worked with

The Myths of the Flatland

Guler & Kangra paintings. After this family. Well Mr.Anil Raina was
settling in Kangra, he worked on indeed very proud of the heritage
Basohli style of paintings. I am he was taking forward, being one
the 8th generation of Nainsukh. of the last descendants of the great
Nainsukhs sons worked under Raja artist. He did have responsibilities
Sansar Chand as painters said Mr. to keep the tradition alive however
Anil Raina. However, the golden he did believe it would get more and
period for these paintings was more difficult in the near future.
the 16th-17th century, it was the
best generation under Chandulal
Raina. Though, he hasnt taken up
painting full time, but works as an
artist to keep the generations art
going. Otherwise he works at the
Dharamshala museum on the front
desk; apart from curating, he guides
the students of Chitera School.
He said I still remember I started

Chapter V

An Archival Excursion
N. C Mehta Museum Government Museum multidimensional Museums in
The Myths of the Flatland

India, the Government Museum

Ahmedabad and Art Gallery and Art Gallery at Chandigarh
Chandigarh occupies a very distinctive position
for not only its unique collection
N.C Mehta museum in Ahmedabad The Government Museum and of the objects, but also for other
is the gallery house of Ragmala Art Gallery,Chandigarh is an reasons as well. Situated in the heart
paintings and some magnificent art gallery in the Indian Union of the city planned by Le Corbusier,
artworks dealing with the royalty. Territory Chandigarh, located in and very close to the city center
There are also some works that the city of Chandigarh near the in beautiful view of the Shivalik
portray the society at large and Rose Garden. Established in August range of mountains, the Museum
its functioning. The paintings 1947, the building was designed has a very sprawling and spread
showcased are made on handmade by acknowledged architect, Le out campus at one side of which
paper and the delineate figurings on Corbusier. The museum has a is located the Government College
it were done with natural-mineral section for miniature paintings, of Art. The Museum building is
colors. The gallery also showcases which had a vast collection of the an attraction in view of the fact
renowned works from Western original authentic Rajasthani and that Le Corbusier himself designed
India and Sultanate Scholl. The Pahari miniature paintings of the it. The Museum was inaugurated
glory of the Mughal era is also 17th-19th century made under on the 6th May, 1968 under the
underlined in some works. The Jain the kings rule. Various famous initiative and active support of Late
School paintings at this collective pahari painting serious like the Dr. M.S. Randhawa, renowned
museum are also worth noticing. barahmasa, the naynika series, the connoisseur and patron of art,
Persian epics Hamza-Nama and gits govinda were displayed with and the then Chief Commissioner
Sikander Nama find proud space in their detailed descriptions along side of Chandigarh. Later a few
the gallery. The Krishna Leela and each. The Government Museum other buildings were added in
life of the kings also are a part of and Art Gallery, Chandigarh, owes view of the growing need of the
the miniatures here. Works dealing its existence to the partition of Museums expansion. The campus
with love and romance in times the country in August 1947. It is in which the Museum is situated
of yore also find space here. The one of the premier institutions of is surrounded with selective trees
truly highlighting feature of the India with a very rich collection of adding grandeur to the campus.
NC Mehta Gallery is that it houses Gandharan sculptures, Pahari and The vast expanse of the courtyard
collections from all ages, regions Rajasthani miniature paintings. of the Museum is dotted with some
and eras that the country has been Before the partition in 1947, the contemporary sculptures suitable
witnessed to. This also makes it a collection of art objects, paintings, for environmental display. The
source of information about the sculptures and decorative arts, were Museum has four wings of which
wonderful yet subtle differences housed in the Central Museum, the largest and the most imposing
in various styles and schools of Lahore the then capital of Punjab. is doubtless the building of the Art
painting. The experience at the On April 10, 1948, the division of Gallery. Another wing constitutes
N.C Mehta archives is aesthetically collection took place by which sixty the Natural History Museum,
appealing and informative. percent of objects were retained Chandigarh Architecture Museum
by Pakistan and the remaining and National Gallery of Portraits.
forty percent collection consisting The Chandigarh Architecture
mainly of Gandharan sculptures Museum documents the different
and Indian miniature paintings stages of development from the
(Mughal and Pahari schools) fell in inception to the present stage of the
the share of India. Received in the city of Chandigarh.
month of April,1949, this collection
was first housed in Amritsar then
Shimla, Patiala and finally shifted
to Chandigarh. Of the various An installation at
The Chandigarh Art Museum.

The Chandigarh Art Museum.

Abhisandhita Nayika Series (19th Century) archived at Chandigarh Art Museum.
Vipralabdha Nayika Series (1850) archived at Chandigarh Art Museum.

A Princess with a Parrot (18th Century A.D.) archived at Chandigarh Art Museum.
Raja Sansar Chand of Kangra (1810 A.D.) archived at Chandigarh Art Museum.

The view

Museum of Museum of Kangra Art was

opened on 17 January, 1990 to
Chitera School of Arts started by
KAPS, under which various artists
Kangra Art preserve, conserve and revive the are trained and turned into polished
Dharamshala rich cultural heritage of Kangra kangra miniature painter. What was

The Myths of the Flatland

region. Museum is a treasure house very fascinating was how in such a
of rich heritage of the valleys art small room allotted to the Chitera
and culture, located near Kotwali School of arts, students are trained
Bazaar at Dharmshala. Museum and the trained artists sit and work
is still in infancy but now the further on their paintings.
collection is increased to 1500
art object comprising miniature
paintings, textiles, sculptures,
jewelry, coins and objects of cultural
anthropology. Also known as the
Dharamshala Museum this is the
birthplace and present place of the

The Entrance of the

Museum of Kangra Art
The view of Old Kangra
Fort from the Museum

Maharaja Museum showcases legacy of

Katoch dynasty As Published in
texts and almost everything that
could showcase the royal lifestyle.
Sansarchand The Tribune - 21st November The walls inside the museum were
Museum 2011 Close to the old Kangra Fort, painted by artists especially brought

The Myths of the Flatland

Kangra Maharaja Sansar Chand Museum from Rajasthan, disclosed the staff at
owned by the Royal family of the museum. This museum has used
Kangra has been opened for the miniature painting for decorative
public this month. A chart showing purpose.
the complete Katoch dynasty has
been displayed with pictures at
the entrance of the museum that
exhibits the items owned by the
royal family like crystal and silver
utensils, clothes, coins, a silver bed,
swords, telescopes, some written

The Entrance of the

Maharaja Sansar Chand Museum

The display at Chhatrapati
Shivaji Museum
Chhatrapati Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu
Sangrahalaya, formerly known as
regarding all the various types of
pahari paintings and various types
Shivaji the Prince of Wales museum of of miniature paintings that were
Maharaj Vastu Western India is one of the premium born in India some of which include
Sangrahalaya art and history museums in India. the; the deccan style, the mughal
The museum had a special section style, the eastern zone, the central
on Indian Miniature paintings with zone, the pahari style and a few
the original paintings of historic more.
times as well as the present time
paintings by Master artist Mr. Vijay
Sharmaji on display. Apart from
which it had extensive information
The Myths of the Flatland
Chapter VI

Kangra Art Promotion Society

The Myths of the Flatland

The Myths of the Flatland

Kangra Art Promotion Society


Mcleodganj, Dharamshala
K angra Arts Promotion Society
(KAPS), is an NGO registered
with District Magistrate-Registrar
After meeting with the cofounders
we got to know that currently very
few genuine disciples of old
Societies Kangra at Dharamshala Kangra Schools (Gharana) survive.
(HP) started on the 5th of June Many of them work in obscurity and
2007, registered under the number live on meager earnings through
4247 working for the promotion of associations with temples or sales to
arts of the greater Kangra region tourists with low remunerations. A picture of the Craft Cluster
which comprises the current district One of their ways of doing that of the society), Mr. Sanjeet Rana materials to perform this art. They team with the active team
of Kangra and surrounding areas is by Chitera School. This School (C.A of the society), Mr. Varun procure their Raw material like
of KAPS. (Mrs. Smiti Chada
holding her NIFT Calendar
that once formed part of the Kangra actively performs this art at the Singh (Secretary of the society), Colours, Handmade Paper and Gold presented by our college as
tradition. KAPS operates from its first floor room of Dharamshala Mrs. Smiti Chada (Active member and Silver from jaipur, Rajasthan. a souvenir)
headquarters at Mcleodganj, where Museum. We met Mrs. Ritu, the of the society) are working towards The Master Artisan of this school
we were staying. KAPS is working Curator of the Museum, there. She the growth of this craft. They is Mr. Dani Ram and Mr. Mukesh.
actively for the upliftment and helped us getting in touch with all do promotions in the form of They teach the new comers and also
preservation of the arts in Kangra. the other people working in the Exhibitions and work- shops. They approve the final paintings.
They are mainly focusing on the same direction. arranged an exhibition in Wild KAPS is moving forward and
dying art of Kangra Miniature flower hall, Shimla, Workshops hoping to expand with a few
Painting and they are working on At present, Chitera School has six for the government employees, objectives in mind. They wishes
the principles of Guru-Shishya active resident artists who practice Workshops in Schools, Jammu to preserve the arts of Kangra
Parampara. this art. Initially when it started Mr. Workshop, Film Making workshop ,Identify the practicing Kangra
KAPS is the nodal agency to Agrawal took the initiative to save with live demonstra- tions to artists and support them, encourage
acquire a Geographical Indicator this ever dying traditional art. This attract more people, International the existing artists to further evolve
(GI) for Kangra miniatures and foundation was initially working Exhibitions at Nehru Center, the arts of Kangra, set up a school
has been authorized to certify with small cluster also with the London and Milpitus, Cali- fornia. to teach the arts of Kangra, build a
Kangra Paintings on authenticity founder and co-founders private The students are trained under treasure of old and new paintings
under the Geographical Indications investments for 6 months. After experts. And sometimes these for posterity and promote Kangra
Goods (Registration and Protection) that in 2007 on the 5th of June, the students then become independent arts at National and International
Act1999. society received G.I. Status from and start working separately. level.
The purpose of KAPS is to ensure the government. All the Members One artist completes around 4-5
that the tradition of Kangra. of KAPS: Dr. Akshay Ranchal paintings in a month. Each painting
Paintings, is enlivened and nurtured (Founder of the society) , Mr. B.K is sold for Rs.2,500 and Rs.3,000 for
by a new generation of Artists and Agrawal (Founder of the society), the framed ones. This foundation
passed on to the future generations. Mr. Bharat Kera (Vice president provides the students with all the

B.N. Goswamy

Chapter VII

B.N. Goswamy

The Myths of the Flatland

We asked him few questions in To all these questions Mr. Goswami

The Myths of the Flatland

order to clarify our generic doubts gave an answer with barely few
about the origin, development sentences, but these sentences held
of the painting and its inevitable a lot of meaning and depth within
techniques to suffice the information them.
available to us also informing him
about our doings. List of questions: He said, I do not believe in designations
like Kangra Miniatures for to equate a
1. When did Kangra miniature state with a style is not too logical in my
painting catch your attention and way of thinking. Styles were formed within
how? families of artists and my work has been
2. Do you think there has been along those lines for many, many years. He
any evolution/ change in the old further added, Contemporary work
traditional style in the Kangra being done in the so-called Kangra style is
painting? essentially copying work, a faint imitation
3. In what ways and do you of what was done in the 18th and 19th
appreciate the change? centuries. Very little fresh thinking is going
4. What are your views about; into it and there is no sense of conviction
keeping the handicrafts in their in it.
true authenticated (authentic)

O ur journey of researching for Outstanding Research in Art form or would you appreciate
and studying of the Kangra History, the Padma Shri (1998) and stylized (or material) change and its Though we couldnt arrange a
Miniature paintings had a the Padma Bhushan (2008) from contemporized use also? personal one-to-one meeting with
meaningful end. We had a direct the President of India. 5. We as design students and future Mr. Goswami but his guidance
conversation with the Cornucopia Prof. Goswamy has written communicators will work towards and viewpoint about the miniature
of miniature paintings (as the extensively and has been responsible preserving (promoting) this craft to painting (specifically Kangra)
title suggests), Mr. B. N Goswami. for major exhibitions of Indian art relevant audience. The youth of the changed our way of approach to
Unfortunately, we failed to meet in Paris, San Francisco, Zurich, country has a lot of potential. What the same. It seemed like we were
him in person but we had a verbal San Diego, and Frankfurt. As do you expect can we as the future driven by the placebo effect of
dialect via email for the clarification Visiting Professor, he has taught of India do to preserve the painting the miniature paintings and Mr.
of our doubts and proposing a list of at Universities of Heidelberg, style? And if at all preservation Goswamis response made it a
questions. Pennsylvania, California (at should be theemphasiscurrently? revival reality.
Before absorbing the dialect it is Berkeley and Los Angeles), Zurich,
important to get familiar with Mr. and Texas (at Austin), and lectured
Gosawmi and his brilliant works. extensively at museums and
universities in Europe, the U.S. and
Prof. B.N. Goswami is a distinguished India.
art historian, and a leading authority One of Mr. B. N. Goswamis
on Indian art and is Professor renowned works is a book on Indian
Emeritus of Art History at the Painting with the title: Themes,
Punjab University, Chandigarh. History and Interpretations.
His work covers a wide range profile The Prime Minister of India Dr.
and is regarded, especially in the Manmohan Singh on 18 October
area of Pahari painting, as having 2013 released another book on
influenced serious critical thinking. Indian painting which is titled as
He received many honors including The spirits of Indian Paintings
the Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship, the written by Prof. B.N. Goswami in
Rietberg Award from Switzerland New Delhi.

B.N. Goswami, (2014) The Spirit of Indian Paintings, Penguin Bo oks India
M.S. Randhawa, 1(954) Kangra Valley Painting, Publications Division
Anjan Chakravarty (2005) History of Pahari Painting, Lustre Press
Edith Tomry 1(982) History of fine arts in India, Orient Longman

The Myths of the Flatland